Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Week of Violence in Pakistan

This picture was taken by Anjum Naveed (AP) and is in today's Post. It shows Pakistani troops in Rawalpindi, prior to their raid on army headquarters to regain control of the building from Islamic militants.
The Pakistani Taliban has carried out a series of large-scale attacks in the past week. Karen Brulliard recounts them in today's Post (here). The attacks are viewed as retaliation for (1) the Pakistani Army's efforts to re-take the Swat Valley and (2) the US assassination of Baitullah Mehsud in August (which I wrote about here).

Brulliard reports on a new development in the fighting: some of the militants involved in the recent attacks are Punjabi:
Punjabi militant groups have long existed, but in the past they were nurtured by intelligence agencies to focus their attacks on Pakistan's archrival, India. Their alliance with the Pashtun-dominated Taliban indicates they are now "up for hire," and represent yet another foe, military analyst Shuja Nawaz said.
This reminds me of Dexter Filkins's account, in The Forever War, of the quickness with which different tribal groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan switch their allegiances depending on the state-of-play from day-to-day.

322. Is Richard Holbrooke over there right now? This seems like it is approaching a crisis moment, and I am curious as to how the Administration is coordinating US efforts with the Pakistani government.

323. What is the total number of US troops -- either "open" or special-forces/undercover -- in Pakistan currently? Are there any US forces there?

324. How many US civilians live in Pakistan? I remember meeting the woman from Baltimore, during my flight to Delhi in 2006, who was working on a water project in Kabul (at that time Afghanistan was considerably more peaceful than now). Are there similar projects going on in the Pakistani cities?

325. What is Pervez Musharraf doing nowadays? Does he have any continuing formal role in the Pakistani government? Does anyone in the Administration keep in touch with him in order to seek his input/counsel?

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